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The regular meeting of the Anglican Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada took place March 2-5, 2006 at the new Residence and Conference Centre at St. Paul’s University, Ottawa. The dialogue is made up of 6 people from each church, plus staff. Members include theologians, both pastors and lay people.
The dialogue has been studying the new agreed statement of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ”. Luis Melo, A Roman Catholic member of the dialogue, presented a paper ‘Recalling the Work of ARCIC II as Related to Mary in Scripture, Mission, Communion of Saints; Pastoral Consequences.’ Fr. Melo, who is active in Roman Catholic-Mennonite dialogue in Winnipeg, considered Mary as faithful disciple. Joe Mangina, an Anglican member, shared ‘On Letting Mary Speak for Herself: Comments on Mary, Grace and Hope’, on Mary in the light of previous ARCIC themes, especially salvation and justification.
The dialogue is continuing work on the practical implications, practices and ecclesiological implications if both Communions were to accept the findings of the report, and is preparing a study guide for Anglicans and Roman Catholics to engage in discussion of Mary at the parish level.
Members of the dialogue shared perspectives on the future of marriage and how matters related to marriage are being addressed in each church. A former member of the dialogue, Prof. John Gibaut of St. Paul University, traced the ways in which important and contested questions related to sexuality and marriage have been addressed at successive Lambeth Conferences.
In order to understand the ways in which the two churches are addressing the pastoral issues arising from changing attitudes in church and society to persons of homosexual orientation, the dialogue welcomed Prof. Noel Simard, a Roman Catholic moral theologian from St. Paul University, and Mr. Ron Chaplin, an Anglican community activist. Members of the dialogue agreed that it is important that churches have pastoral respect for gay and lesbian persons, and that the two churches continue to be in relationship and dialogue, noting that these questions pose challenges to both communions in our society. They also bring out differing patterns of authority and decision-making, which can lead to our better understanding of one another as Christian communities of faith responding to the Gospel in our time.
As is the custom, members of the Dialogue prayed the offices together and participated in the Convent eucharist, as much as the practices of our two churches allow, with Bishop François Lapierre (Roman Catholic) presiding and Captain Michelle Staples (Anglican) preaching.
The next meeting will take place in Montreal September 28-30, 2006. The agenda will include the continuing work on Mary and discussion of The Windsor Report, especially its implications for the accountability each communion might have to the other as difficult questions are addressed.